Baseball to open season in Fla.

Matt Lefebvre

The Quinnipiac baseball team will be soaking in some rays for the next week or so as most QU students will be during spring break. In no way however, is this trip a time for relaxation. The men will travel to the ‘Sunshine State’ for a seven game set in as many days starting Wednesday Mar. 9.

The city of Miami will host the Bobcats for the extended spring session, which features games against the University of Miami, University of Tampa and the Single A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Philadelphia Phillies, the Clearwater Threshers.

Last season, the men traveled to the Virginias for their spring training, playing four games in Va. and two games in W.V. The ‘Cats were 1-5 on the trip, picking up their only win against the University of Virginia, 13-11.

The men return key contributors in catcher Kevin MacIlvane, infielders Wilson Matos and Bryan Sabatella, outfielder Brien Magee and pitchers Patrick Egan and Chris Wakefield.

A noticeable absence from the Bobcats’ dugout is graduated outfielder Albert Marano.

Marano led the offense last season in homeruns (8), walks (21) and stolen bases with six.

He was named Quinnipiac Athlete of the year for 2003-04 and was added to the NEIBA All-Star game as a replacement played at Fenway Park.

A year ago, the Bobcats finished 23-21 with a 16-7 mark against NEC opponents. The home diamond proved to be very friendly to the ‘Cats who gained more than half of the team’s total win count, 14, at home, only losing six games in Hamden all season.

Manager Dan Gooley, entering his 17th season at the helm of a collegiate baseball club, has compiled a record of 356-287-6 (.549) over that time. During his time as a manager at Quinnipiac and the University of Hartford, Gooley has coached two players who eventually went on to play in the major leagues; pitcher and QU alum Turk Wendell and first baseman Jeff Bagwell; both of whom currently play for the Houston Astros. Bagwell was the National League Rookie of the year in 1991 and league MVP in the strike shortened 1994 season.

The Bobcats were selected to finish second in the pre-season NEC coaches poll. QU received one first place vote with Central Conn. St. (seven) and Wagner (one) receiving the other eight votes.

Along with the usual NEC opponents, the Bobcats will host non-conference foes UMass, the College of the Holy Cross and UConn while QU will travel to St. John’s, the University of Rhode Island, Boston College, Army and Yale.

The Bobcats’ first conference match-up is on Mar. 25, a double-header against Long Island in Brooklyn, N.Y.